I hoped to have news today of Jamie's latest project, a book about the early years of Games Workshop, but it turns out I have no more info to impart than is already on the crowdfunding page, so instead I'm going to talk about a passage that caught my eye in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian:
"We rested our rifle barrels on the brimstone and we shot nine more on the lava where they ran. It was a stand, what it was. Wagers was laid. The last of them shot was a reckonable part of a mile from the muzzles of the guns and that on a dead run. It was sharp shootin all around and not a misfire in the batch with that queer powder."These fellows are ordinary NPCs, which in GURPS terms might be 100-point characters. The highest that most of them would be in Guns skill is around 15-16, but we can assume the final shot that Tobin, the narrator, is talking about was made by the company's best sharpshooter. Let's say he has a skill of 22.
"A reckonable part of a mile" -- that's got be at least 1000 yards, which is -16 for range. And the last Indian shot was "on a dead run", and even though a component of that motion would be directly away from the shooter, it's got to be at least another -6.
So far our shooter needs 0 to hit. But he can aim for three rounds, which gives him the Accuracy bonus of the weapon (+3 for a Sharps .59 caplock) and another +2 for the extra rounds spent. Also he can brace the rifle for +1.
With an adjusted skill of 6 the shooter had a 9.3% chance of success (GURPS makes skill rolls on 3d6). I wouldn't take that shot myself. Ammo's too precious. But it was the last of their enemies and everyone's blood was up, so obviously our man decided to go for it.I bet the referee gave him a character point in Guns for that, too, which is pretty much useless at that level and in any case you learn more from failure than from success -- but hey, nobody turns down a CP, am I right?
But that's fiction, or it's gaming. How about real-life skills? I found this assessment of 1911 handguns. Now, those aren't rifles and they are from 60 years (a whole Tech Level) after the events of Blood Meridian, but still Mr Kolesar is getting a spread of 2 inches with his Colt at 50 yards. That would be good enough to ensure a face hit every time, which in GURPS terms is -5 and another -8 for range, so -13 overall. The Colt has Accuracy +2, so with three rounds to aim and holding it in both hands that reduces the penalty to -8. To hit pretty much every time means adjusted skill must be 17, so Mr Kolesar's actual Guns skill in GURPS terms must be at least 25. He's built on more than 100 points, I bet.
Incidentally, Tobin also says they didn't get a single misfire from a batch of black powder they just mixed up Captain Kirk style. They shot sixty-seven of their enemies and not every shooter can have been as good as that eagle-eyed guy who downed the last one, so let's say at least a hundred bullets were fired. This is the mid-nineteenth century and misfires occur on 16+ on 3d6 at Tech Level 5, so you'd expect four or five in every hundred shots. That must have been some magic formula.
Anyway, I recommend Blood Meridian. It's what you'd get if Michel Tournier and Lord Dunsany collaborated on a fabulist Western. And if that doesn't pique your interest, what would?